Thursday 28 March 2013



This month's feature comes courtesy of Afshin Behnia (Los Angeles, California) with his Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Afshin is CEO at the rapidly growing company Petrolicious. If you haven't seen any of its videos yet, be sure to take a look! This article previously appeared on Afshin's blog Click here to read the full story.

8C by the sea
We all have regrets in life. Some are small, others bigger. Some of us have that one major regret – that one Big Mistake which we wish we could go back in time and correct. And it often involves love, lust, or both.

Sometime in 2003, Alfa Romeo, which had been mostly absent from any news coverage in the US since 1995, was suddenly on the cover of all the auto magazines and blogs with photos of its stunning new, outrageously gorgeous 8C Competizione Concept. It was pure sex on wheels. Alfisti all over the world, or anyone with a pulse for that matter, immediately lusted after it. It instantly sparked new life, energy, and interest in this great marque. I had to have it. No, I needed it!
Unlike many concepts, it wasn’t trying too hard to be some overly-designed teenage science fiction vision of the future. Nor was it just a rehashed version of a design that was visionary some 30 years ago, but bastardized for today’s market. Instead, it was simple, yet different than anything else out there. All the lines just worked. One look and your heart beat went up. It was a modern classic. With no Alfa Romeo or Fiat dealerships in the US, I did the next best thing: I walked into my local Ferrari dealer and inquired about the 8C. They had absolutely no information about it, but they took down my name in case they heard anything. A couple of years passed, and Alfa Romeo was still promising to produce the 8C, and I continued to check in with the Ferrari dealer every once in a while. My tenacity paid off and in early 2008 I received the call from the Ferrari dealership informing me that it had a spot available for the upcoming Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. I pulled the trigger and placed my order. It took about eight months for my 8C to finally arrive, and during that eternity I fantasized about what the 8C would be like. I daydreamed about driving it down my favorite roads. I tried to imagine how it would behave on the track. But what I mostly romanticized was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur in the 8C with the girl that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. To me, this seemed like an adventure where everything would come together to create the perfect, most memorable experience: the sheer beauty of the rugged California coast, the high-speed curved highway tracing the sea, the jaw-dropping looks of the 8C and its furious power, and, of course, the girl that I love, sitting at my side, together sharing these delights of the senses. There was only one problem. My Big Mistake in life was in the way: I had foolishly broken up with her the previous year.
A few months later, I finally wised-up and decided that I needed to focus all my efforts and attention on correcting this Big Mistake, and I embarked upon a massive campaign to win back the love of my life. To make this difficult endeavor even more challenging was the fact that she lived almost 6000 miles away in her hometown of Milan, the birthplace of Alfa Romeo. Without going into the embarrassing personal details of this international media blitz, suffice to say that after several months of perseverance, I was finally able to convince her to give me another chance. I then planned the dream voyage with her that I had dreamed of: the drive along PCH to Big Sur in August of 2010, the centenary of Alfa Romeo.

The 8C seems to be so perfectly matched for this road trip. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Alfa Romeo chose to use this exact road and destination as the setting of its official promo video. The 8C really has a split personality of both a sports car and a Grand Tourer, while the Competizione in the name is rather a misnomer. As much as it seems to be begging me to take it on the track and let it loose, I just don’t see the 8C as a competition car. But what the 8C might lack in track composure, it makes up for by thrilling you with its engaging driving experience. On the highway, the 8C is extremely well composed and sure-footed, even at double the legal speed limit. Sixth gear is mostly useless at US-legal speeds, and I spent most of the trip up the PCH in fifth gear. For those times when driving along at around 60mph stuck behind a row of slow-moving cars, downshifting to fourth launches the 8C so quickly that you can swallow up several cars ahead in one quick shot, favouring them with one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring engine notes ever heard.
One of my favorite parts of this trip is the hill climb over the cliffs in Big Sur. Here, the road is twisty, narrow, and single-lane in each direction, with stunning views of the ocean to the west. For the stretches where you are lucky to not be behind any slow cars, pushing the 8C is a richly rewarding experience. In Sport Mode, the electronic traction control allows you to get the tail loose just enough to keep you focused on what you’re doing. And the ridiculously large brakes mean that you can approach those hairpin turns high above the sea cliffs at frightening speed with the confidence that you can vanquish all that momentum in a fraction of a second right before the turn in. In most cases, though, you’ll reach your passenger’s comfort limit way before that of the 8C.

The drive up set the tone for the remainder of our trip, and in the days ahead we reveled in the natural beauty and flavors of Big Sur, Carmel, and Sonoma, while being thrilled by the sights, sounds and g-forces offered by the 8C. All the crazy expectations I had created in my daydreams about this trip paled in comparison to the delicious reality of it. The following year, I wanted to repeat the experience, and planned a similar but shorter trip. Instead of Big Sur, this time we stayed in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a ridiculously charming town despite its somewhat tacky main street boasting galleries for 'artists' like Thomas Kinkaid. During this week of historic car events, all the town’s stores are decorated with some kind of car theme, and around every corner you’re sure to find some rare vintage automobile.
I approached that year’s trip with much fewer expectations, and though we had done the trip before, the pleasures and marvels we experienced, both from the 8C and the trip as a whole, still exceeded those of previous trips. But even the most enchanting hike in Big Sur, the beautiful white sandy beaches of Carmel, and the exhilarating moments in the 8C are all a distant second to the best part of this particular trip. You see, I embarked on that trip with my girlfriend and returned home with my fiancée.
Afshin Behnia

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Tuesday 26 March 2013


On the evening of 21st March John Rosamond, former Chairman of the Meriden Co-op, provided a talk on Triumph Motorcycles 1970-1983 for the Rugby group of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG).

Di Doyle Rugby MAG rep organised and chaired the event attended by 40 members and their friends at The Oakfield Club, Bilton Road, Rugby.

The scripted talk and Q&A sessions cover the very eventful period of John's Triumph employment at the factory when he progressed from welder in 1970 to becoming Chairman of the Board in 1977; a position he held until 1983. This is the period covered in great detail in John Rosamond's popular book Save The Triumph Bonneville! The Inside Story of the Meriden Workers' Co-op The talk therefore acts as a companion to the book enabling detailed discussion with the author to take place.

In view of the enthusiastic success of this first talk for MAG members, John Rosamond is anticipating further interest from other branches and can be contacted via email at

Save the Triumph Bonneville! – The inside story of the Meriden Workers’ Co-op

By John Rosamond

Written by the ex-Chairman of the workers’ board of directors of the famous Meriden co-op, this is the real story of the last bastion of British motorcycle production following the collapse of the industry. It’s also the story of a workforce’s refusal to let the Triumph Bonneville die ...

More info

Friday 22 March 2013


Coming soon! Amédée Gordini – a true racing legend by Roy Smith.

Forewords by José Froilán González, Sir Stirling Moss & Christian Huet.

This is a story of excitement, laughs, astonishment and anger – a story of the determination of a man with a dream and a passion for motor racing in the big leagues. It is the first time that the history of the always under-financed Gordini racing team has been documented in English, and the first complete story of Gordini himself in any language. This volume will appeal to new enthusiasts and old hands of Formula 1 and sports prototypes, especially those who have owned a Gordini engined-car. It charts Gordini’s early life and beginnings in motorsport, up to 1969 when Renault took over the Gordini company, keeping his name on all the racing engines until 1986, before finally resurrecting it for a performance version of the Renault Twingo and Clio in 2009. The book is packed with evocative period images from important collections, supplementary transcripts in English from many contemporary interviews, plus recollections from former employees remembering their time working with Gordini, and an exhaustive set of statistics. All the way it’s a roller coaster of joy, despair, humour, and stunning images. The racing legend of ‘Le Sorcier’ lives on ...

Click here for more info about the book!


The same candytone brown (also known as Root Beer) Kawasaki Z1 that appears in Kawasaki Z1 & Z900 (1972 to 1976) - Essential Buyer's Guide by Dave Orritt appeared in a big feature in Classic Motorcycle Mechanics magazine!

Packed with good advice on choosing the right Kawasaki, with a comprehensive inspection guide and in-depth analysis of strengths and weaknesses, this book covers desirable upgrades, modifications to avoid, valuation and predicting which models will become collectable (if they aren’t already). Illustrated throughout with photos of key areas to check and foibles to be aware of, and featuring details ranging from the Kawasaki community, to whether a Kawasaki Z1 or Z900 will suit you and your lifestyle, this is the complete guide to choosing, assessing, and buying the Kawasaki of your dreams.
More info.


It was a little less than 35 years ago that the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Alpine-Renault A442B paraded down the Champs-Elysées in front of a cheering crowd who turned out to show their appreciation for the car’s success in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi. Today, the Parisian public and visitors to the French capital have another chance to discover the A442B, since it is one of the centrepieces of the ‘No Limit!’ exhibition which is currently running at L’Atelier Renault (until April 7).

The Champs Elysees premises consequently provided the ideal backdrop for the revelation of the new Alpine prototype which is poised to compete in this year’s endurance racing season. Société des Automobiles Alpine-Caterham’s CEO Bernard Ollivier and Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine Team Principal, lifted the veil to reveal a striking blue and orange livery which recalls the colours sported by the Alpines which raced at Le Mans some five decades ago.

“Since the announcement of Alpine’s revival on November 5 last year, we have been moving forward step by step,” said Bernard Ollivier. “The unveiling of this splendid car marks the beginning of another phase. It will turn a wheel for the first time very soon, and its maiden race will follow shortly afterwards. The news of our endurance racing programme received a very positive welcome, not only from diehard Alpine enthusiasts, but also from the world of motor racing in general. We can hardly wait to see our brand’s colours in action!”

“I am extremely proud to be representing Alpine, but it as an honour which goes hand in hand with significant responsibilities,” noted Philippe Sinault. “The next step is to take the car to Paul Ricard where our work will begin in earnest. Our aim is to be competitive in endurance racing’s highly competitive LMP2 class. We will use the different test sessions that are planned, as well as the first two rounds of the ELMS, to prepare for June’s Le Mans 24 Hours which is clearly the focal point of the season.”

The drivers who have been named to share the N°36 Alpine-Renault form a blend of experience and youth, and all three are keen to get behind its wheel. Nelson Panciatici, 24, and Pierre Ragues, 29, who were confirmed at the time of the programme’s original announcement, will be joined for the Le Mans 24 Hours by 34-year old Tristan Gommendy. The three Frenchmen all rose up through the ranks of Renault’s single-seater formulae and, between them, total 10 previous participations in the world’s most famous motor race. Another French youngster, Paul-Loup Chatin, has been chosen as the car’s reserve driver.

Source: Alpine

Monday 18 March 2013


Coming soon! The Wheeler Dealer Know How! is written by Mike Brewer, cheeky chappie and TV's best-known car dealing expert. In a career spanning almost 30 years, Mike has seen and done everything when it comes to buying and selling cars, and having established a successful career as a television presenter, is eager to share his knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for cars.
Telling you all you need to know about buying, preparing and selling modern classic cars, this book guides you through the minefield that is the world of car dealing, and helps you avoid the pitfalls that await the unwary. Plus, with stories and anecdotes from Mike’s time in the trade, you'll gain a fascinating insight into the world of wheeler-dealing.
Packed full of information and tips, The Wheeler Dealer Know How will give you the confidence to buy the car of your dreams and avoid ending up with a lemon. You’ll find out how to prepare a car to expert standards – from cleaning, to repairs and improvements – and when the time comes to sell, Mike tells you how to get the best price and avoid being ripped-off.
More info.

Friday 8 March 2013


On 5 November 2012, Renault’s senior management announced its intention to revive the Alpine brand within the framework of a partnership with Caterham. Today, under the leadership of CEO Bernard Ollivier, the recently-created Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham is already working on a new car which is expected to reach the market in 2016.

In the meantime, the brand is gradually building up to its return to consolidate its image thanks to carefully-tailored programmes in all its traditional areas of activity.

After presentations at the 2012 Monaco F1 Grand Prix and at the Le Mans Classic week of the Alpine A110-50, which was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the celebrated ‘Berlinette’, five Alpine A110s were officially entered for the recent Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. They were given a warm welcome by the public and afterwards joined other models of the make founded byJean Rédélé at the Rétromobile Show in Paris, France, at the beginning of February.

Today, another important step has been taken with the announcement that an Alpineprototype is to race in the competitive 2013 European Le Mans Series endurance racing championship (ELMS), as well as at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours (June 22-23).

The decision to compete at Le Mans fits perfectly with the brand’s heritage, since Alpine contested the famous 24-hour race 11 times between 1963 and 1978, running a total of 55 factory cars. In addition to its successes in the ‘Energy Index’ classification in 1964, 1965 and 1968, as well as in the ‘Performance Index’ classification in 1968 and 1969, its efforts harvested seven class wins in total and, above all, outright victory in 1978 with the Alpine A442B prototype shared by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi. The two Frenchmen were joined in the top four by the A442 ofJean Ragnotti and Guy Fréquelin.

For its return to Le Mans, Alpine has joined forces with Signatech. ThePhilippe Sinault-run team will enter an Alpine LMP2 prototype with anAlpine chassis powered by a 500hp Nissan engine for the five rounds of the ELMS, including the opening race at Silverstone, England (13 April). The drivers will be Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici.

The highlight of the season will naturally be the Le Mans 24 Hours. The name of the third driver who will join the team for the world’s most famous endurance race will be announced when the car is officially presented at Le Castellet, France, on 24 March.

Source: Alpine

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Tuesday 5 March 2013


The wraps are finally off the LaFerrari. The Prancing Horse’s eagerly-anticipated limited-series special, of which just 499 will be built, made its world debut today at the Geneva International Motor Show.

“We chose to call this model LaFerrari,” declared Ferrari’s President, Luca di Montezemolo, “because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company – excellence. Excellence in terms of technological innovation, performance, visionary styling and the sheer thrill of driving. Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will find their way onto the rest of the range, and it represents the benchmark for the entire automotive industry. LaFerrari is the finest expression of our company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design know-how, including that acquired in Formula 1.

For Ferrari the development of a limited-series special like the LaFerrari represents an opportunity to experiment with all the technological solutions that will later filter down onto the production cars. Of particular significance in this context is the introduction of the hybrid system which, making full use of the Scuderia Ferrari’s F1 KERS know-how, has resulted in a solution that exalts Ferrari’s fundamental values – performance and driving thrills.

The hybrid technology used, known as HY-KERS, represents the perfect combination of maximum performance and lower emissions. LaFerrari in fact emits just 330 g/km of CO2 but without resorting to electric-only drive which would not fit the mission of this model. The HY-KERS system is, however, designed so that in future applications a car can be driven using exclusively electric power for a few kilometres and, during development testing, a full-electric version of LaFerrari achieved just 220 g/km of CO2 emissions on the combined cycle.

The LaFerrari is equipped with dynamic controls that are integrated for the first time ever on a Ferrari road car with active aerodynamics and the HY-KERS system. Thanks to Ferrari’s proprietary logic which govern all the systems, the car can achieve absolute levels of performance, aerodynamic efficiency and handling without any form of compromise in any area. A very advanced and uncompromising approach was also taken with the interior design which features an HMI inspired by F1 single-seaters.

Source: Ferrari

Friday 1 March 2013


Johnny Tipler joins in the fun this month in this 11th 'Me and my car' feature, and tells us how he fell in love with his Porsche 911 (964) C2, or 'Peppermint Pig' as he likes to call it. Johnny is a well-respected motoring journalist and author of the first-ever Veloce book Alfa Romeo Giulia GT & GTA (first published in 1991), going on to write four more books for Veloce: Alfa Romeo Berlinas (Saloons/Sedans), Fiat & Abarth 124 Spider & Coupe, Mini – The Real Thing! & La Carrera Panamericana. All are sold out and hard to come by now. Good news, though: in 2013, Johnny is back! A revised & enlarged new edition of the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT & GTA book will be published by Veloce later in the year ...

We've seen all sorts in this monthly feature and it has become an enjoyable part of our blog as we simply love the enthusiasm our readership has for anything on wheels that's a little bit leftfield. Please keep your entries coming in, and you never know, it could be YOU in this space next month!

"The Peppermint Pig is a 1991 Porsche 964 C2, bought in 2005 from Roock Racing at Leverkusen, north of Cologne. I’d gone to interview Michael Roock, patron of the eponymous racing team (GT2 winner at Le Mans in 1995, etc) for 911 & Porsche World magazine, and studiously avoided eye contact with the mint green 911 centre stage in his exotica-packed showroom. After the interview I couldn’t resist taking a closer look at what I’d assumed from its low-slung demeanour was an RS, and noted it had a sunroof and rear seats, which are normally absent on RSs. Only then did I look at the windscreen blurb, and was pleasantly surprised to read it was a regular C2, albeit one with attitude. The pound was strong, the euro weak; Roock offered to repatriate my LHD 3.2 Carrera, which I’d arrived in, and the deal was done.

It had been love at first sight, and though plaudits are manifold, the mint green hue and black Cup wheelsaren’t to everyone’s taste. A common reaction is, 'how could someone paint a Porsche that colour?' though it was on the standard colour chart in 1990 and 1991, and not even a special order. Plenty of people like to have their picture taken with the car, though, and I’ve overheard boy racers discussing its merits with surprising gravity.
In winter I run it on Nokian tyres, though it’s mostly on Continental ContiSports. Three years ago when I first started using the winter tyres I converted to 16in D-90 alloy wheels rather than the 17in Cups, and found the car’s behaviour transformed: its handling is much more vivacious and entertaining, and during a brief spell back on the Cup wheels I couldn’t wait to refit the (slightly) smaller wheels and tyres.

The Peppermint Pig served on the school run for several years, a daily 80-mile round trip, mostly on B-roads and country lanes, a duty rendered pleasurable because of the Peppermint Pig. I’ve also driven it to countless Continental race meetings I’ve been covering, such as Classic Le Mans, Monte Carlo Historic Rally, Mille Miglia, Nürburgring Old Timer and Ennstal Classic, plus feature venues such as Ruf near Munich and a succession of Abbeville trackdays, not to mention visits to UK circuits and specialists. We have a house in Portugal and it’s taken us there too, suffering the indignity of a top box en route! All that added up to 315,000km (196,000 miles), and the engine was starting to use a lot of oil. I’d been impressed by the methodology and dedication of 911 Motorsport mechanics tending their patron’s 911s at the Abbeville trackdays, and booked the car in for a major overhaul. The task was carried out over four weeks by Mike van Dingenen, who handed over a pristine 964 with virtually a brand new engine. The transformation was amazing: it was now much more responsive, with a sharper engine note; acceleration was instantaneous rather than lethargic, and though it’s still running in, it’s obvious that its original performance has been restored.
Every journey, near or far, the Peppermint Pig is great company, and now there’s a new spring in its step."
Johnny Tipler

Do you have an interesting vehicle with a story to tell?
We want to see it! Send photos & description to
We will pick one a month, and any we feature will win an Essential Buyer's Guide (worth £9.99 / $19.95) of your choice.
Click below to browse the whole series.